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South African in Taiwan cares for infants born to HIV positive mothers

2012/05/17 19:11:57

Taipei, May 17 (CNA) A South African photographer living in Taiwan has for a number of years been providing a loving home environment at the weekends to infants born to Taiwanese mothers with HIV.

Tobie Openshaw, who moved to the island 15 years ago, and his family registered with the Weekend Foster Family System organized by the Garden of Mercy Foundation four years ago to help babies born to HIV positive mothers enjoy a normal family life.

In that period, Openshaw and his family have hosted a total of four infants. The first child was only 8 months old.

Openshaw, who currently works at the Taipei American School, said his wife and three children always look forward to taking a child home on Friday night. Over the weekend, Openshaw said that they usually play with the child or perhaps teach the infant to walk and sing, before sending the youngster back to the foundation on Monday morning.

Sharing his experience of hosting children, Openshaw said that he sometimes felt like giving up, especially if one of the babies was crying all night.

However, he said he always felt sad when it came time for the children to move on to other organizations for care -- usually after a year or so.

Every child is a gift from God, he said, adding his temporary charges plant seeds of love in him for the next child who needs help.

Newborns are innocent and they need to feel love from their fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters during their childhoods, he said.

The number of people infected with HIV in South Africa is higher than the figure in Taiwan, however, good quality medical services provide better conditions and protection for patients here, Openshaw said.

By giving relevant medicine to these babies, some of them actually end up testing negative for HIV, he pointed out, adding that society should open its arms to anybody who has HIV.

The foundation, which has 12 beds, provides nursing care for newborns up to the age of six months born to mothers with HIV.

Professional care and preventive medicines are provided for the babies to help reduce potential risks and improve their quality of life.

(By Lung Jui-yun and Maia Huang)